Profiles

Alexander Rozental, porträtt. Foto: Kristoffer Rozental.

Alexander Rozental

FD, leg psykolog

Visa sidan på svenska
Works at Department of Psychology
Telephone 08-16 38 71
Email alexander.rozental@psychology.su.se
Visiting address Frescati hagväg 8
Room C 404
Postal address Psykologiska institutionen 106 91 Stockholm

About me

Background
After graduating from Linköping University in 2011 with a masters’s degree in psychology I worked as a clinical psychologist at an outpatient care setting in Lidingö and with young adults in Danderyd just outside of Stockholm. At the same time, I was also employed at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet, teaching assessment and psychological treatment of psychiatric disorders. I received my Swedish license as a clinical psychologist in 2012 and two years later I started as a doctoral candidate in psychology at the Department of Psychology at Stockholm University. In 2017 I received my PhD with a doctoral thesis on negative effects of Internet-based cognitive behavior therapy: Negative effects of Internet-based cognitive behavior therapy: Monitoring and reporting deterioration and adverse and unwanted events.

 

Parallel to my research I have continued working with psychological treatment and assessment with patients, as well as teaching and supervising health care workers; previously at clinic for stress-related disorders, PBM in Stockholm, and presently at a private practice, KBT-Psykologerna in Uppsala. For many years I also worked as a partner in the company Psykologifabriken, primarily creating editorial content about psychology for the media. Apart from my work as a researcher at Stockholm University, I am an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Child Health at University College London.

 

Research
My research primarily concerns two topics: negative effects of psychological treatment as well as the assessment and treatment of procrastination and perfectionism. Together with my colleagues and students I have explored how many and why patients deteriorate during psychological treatment and how negative effects can be measured and reported. I have also evaluated self-help treatments via the Internet and assessed different self-report measures for procrastination and perfectionism. Furthermore, I am also involved in several studies of both Internet- and smartphone-based cognitive behavior therapy for patients diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorders, as well as a project on knowledge acquisition in psychological treatment.

 

Education
At Stockholm University my teaching mainly concerns the assessment and psychological treatment of psychiatric disorders as well as the psychology of learning. I supervise theses in applied psychology on a master and bachelor level. I have also previously been involved in several introductory courses in psychological treatment at the Centre for Psychiatry Research at Karolinska Institutet, where I also worked as an educational supervisor for students attending the psychotherapist program.

 

Self-report measures
In my research on procrastination, three self-report measures have been translated and evaluated in Swedish. These can be used to determine one’s level of severity, and are available for free at fbanken.se. Also, a self-report measure for assessing the occurrence and characteristics of negative effects of psychological treatments has been developed and translated into eleven languages. It can be downloaded and used for free at neqscale.com.

 

In the media

As a researcher and clinical psychologist I believe it is important to share my knowledge to the general public. Somethimes I get the opportunity to talk about the studies that we are conducting or the current scientific evidence of things. Most recently in Dagens Nyheter DebattNew Scientist och Daily Mail. I have also had the pleasue of being interviewed in Huffington Post, CNN Health, and Wall Street Journal.

 

Membership
The Swedish Psychological Association

The Swedish Society for Clinical Psychology

The Swedish Association of Behaviour Therapy

European Society for Research on Internet Interventions

 

Books
Rozental, A., & Wennersten, L. (2014). Dansa på deadline – Uppskjutandets psykologi. Stockholm: Natur & Kultur.

Publications

A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2017. Alexander Rozental (et al.). Behaviour Research and Therapy 95, 79-86

    Being highly attentive to details can be a positive feature. However, for some individuals, perfectionism can lead to distress and is associated with many psychiatric disorders. Cognitive behavior therapy has been shown to yield many benefits for those experiencing problems with perfectionism, but the access to evidence-based care is limited. The current study investigated the efficacy of guided Internet-based Cognitive Behavior Therapy (ICBT) and predictors of treatment outcome. In total, 156 individuals were included and randomized to an eight-week treatment or wait-list control. Self-report measures of perfectionism, depression, anxiety, self-criticism, self-compassion, and quality of life were distributed during screening and at post-treatment. Intention-to-treat were used for all statistical analyses. Moderate to large between-group effect sizes were obtained for the primary outcome measures, Frost Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale, subscales Concerns over Mistakes and Personal Standards, Cohen's d = 0.68–1.00, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) [0.36–1.33], with 35 (44.9%) of the patients in treatment being improved. Predictors were also explored, but none were related to treatment outcome. In sum, guided ICBT can be helpful for addressing problems with clinical perfectionism, but research of its long-term benefits is warranted.

  • 2017. Roz Shafran (et al.). Behaviour Research and Therapy 95, 99-106

    An internet guided self-help cognitive-behavioural treatment (ICBT) for perfectionism was recently found to be effective (see this issue). Such studies stand in need of replication. The aim of this study was to report the outcomes and predictors of change when the treatment is delivered in a UK setting. A total of 120 people (Mean = 28.9 years; 79% female) were randomised to receive ICBT or wait-list control over 12 weeks (trial registration: NCT02756871). While there were strong similarities between the current study and its Swedish counterpart, there were also important differences in procedural details. There was a significant impact of the intervention on the primary outcome measure (Frost Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale, Concern over Mistakes subscale) and also on the Clinical Perfectionism Questionnaire (between group effect sizes d = 0.98 (95% CI: 0.60–1.36) and d = 1.04 (95% CI: 0.66–1.43) respectively using intent-to-treat analyses). Unlike the Swedish study, there was significant non-engagement and non-completion of modules with 71% of participants completing fewer than half the modules. The number of modules completed moderated the rate of change in clinical perfectionism over time. In conclusion, the study indicates the intervention is effective in a UK setting but highlighted the importance of procedural details to optimise retention.

  • 2017. Alexander Rozental (et al.). Cognitive Behaviour Therapy 46 (3), 177-195

    Procrastination is a common self-regulatory failure that can have a negative impact on well-being and performance. However, few clinical trials have been conducted, and no follow-up has ever been performed. The current study therefore aimed to provide evidence for the long-term benefits and investigate predictors of a positive treatment outcome among patients receiving Internet-based cognitive behavior therapy (ICBT). A total of 150 self-recruited participants were randomized to guided or unguided ICBT. Self-report measures of procrastination, depression, anxiety, and quality of life were distributed at pre-treatment assessment, post-treatment assessment, and one-year follow-up. Mixed effects models were used to investigate the long-term gains, and multiple linear regression for predictors of a positive treatment outcome, using the change score on the Irrational Procrastination Scale as the dependent variable. Intention-to-treat was implemented for all statistical analyses. Large within-group effect sizes for guided and unguided ICBT, Cohen’s d = .97–1.64, were found for self-report measures of procrastination, together with d = .56–.66 for depression and anxiety. Gains were maintained, and, in some cases, improved at follow-up. Guided and unguided ICBT did not differ from each other, mean differences −.31–1.17, 95% CIs [−2.59–3.22], and none of the predictors were associated with a better result, bs −1.45–1.61, 95% CIs [−3.14–4.26]. In sum, ICBT could be useful and beneficial in relation to managing procrastination, yielding great benefits up to one year after the treatment period has ended, with comparable results between guided and unguided ICBT.

  • 2017. Alexander Rozental (et al.). Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 85 (2), 160-177

    Objective: Psychological treatments can relieve mental distress and improve well-being, and the dissemination of evidence-based methods can help patients gain access to the right type of aid. Meanwhile, Internet-based cognitive–behavioral therapy (ICBT) has shown promising results for many psychiatric disorders. However, research on the potential for negative effects of psychological treatments has been lacking. Method: An individual patient data meta-analysis of 29 clinical trials of ICBT (N = 2,866) was performed using the Reliable Change Index for each primary outcome measures to distinguish deterioration rates among patients in treatment and control conditions. Statistical analyses of predictors were conducted using generalized linear mixed models. Missing data was handled by multiple imputation. Results: Deterioration rates were 122 (5.8%) in treatment and 130 (17.4%) in control conditions. Relative to receiving treatment, patients in a control condition had higher odds of deteriorating, odds ratios (ORs) = 3.10, 95% confidence interval (CI) [2.21, 4.34]. Clinical severity at pretreatment was related to lower odds, OR = 0.62, 95% CI [0.50, 0.77], and OR = 0.51, 95% CI [0.51, 0.80], for treatment and control conditions. In terms of sociodemographic variables, being in a relationship, OR = 0.58, 95% CI [0.35, 0.95], having at least a university degree, OR = 0.54, 95% CI [0.33, 0.88], and being older, OR = 0.78, 95% CI, [0.62, 0.98], were also associated with lower odds of deterioration, but only for patients assigned to a treatment condition. Conclusion: Deterioration among patients receiving ICBT or being in a control condition can occur and should be monitored by researchers to reverse and prevent a negative treatment trend.

  • 2016. Frode Svartdal (et al.). Frontiers in Psychology 7

    Procrastination is a common problem, but defining and measuring it has been subject to some debate. This paper summarizes results from students and employees (N = 2893) in Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, and Sweden using the Pure Procrastination Scale (PPS) and the Irrational Procrastination Scale (IPS; Steel, 7010), both assumed to measure unidimensional and closely related constructs. Confirmatory factor analyses indicated inadequate configural fit for the suggested one-factor model for PPS; however, acceptable fit was observed for a three-factor model corresponding to the three different scales the PPS is based on. Testing measurement invariance over countries and students employees revealed configural but not strong or strict invariance, indicating that both instruments are somewhat sensitive to cultural differences. We conclude that the PPS and IPS are valid measures of procrastination, and that the PPS may be particularly useful in assessing cultural differences in unnecessary delay.

  • 2016. D. D. Ebert (et al.). Psychological Medicine 46 (13), 2679-2693

    Almost nothing is known about the potential negative effects of Internet-based psychological treatments for depression. This study aims at investigating deterioration and its moderators within randomized trials on Internet-based guided self-help for adult depression, using an individual patient data meta-analyses (IPDMA) approach.

    Studies were identified through systematic searches (PubMed, PsycINFO, EMBASE, Cochrane Library). Deterioration in participants was defined as a significant symptom increase according to the reliable change index (i.e. 7.68 points in the CES-D; 7.63 points in the BDI). Two-step IPDMA procedures, with a random-effects model were used to pool data.

    A total of 18 studies (21 comparisons, 2079 participants) contributed data to the analysis. The risk for a reliable deterioration from baseline to post-treatment was significantly lower in the intervention v. control conditions (3.36 v. 7.60; relative risk 0.47, 95% confidence interval 0.29–0.75). Education moderated effects on deterioration, with patients with low education displaying a higher risk for deterioration than patients with higher education. Deterioration rates for patients with low education did not differ statistically significantly between intervention and control groups. The benefit–risk ratio for patients with low education indicated that 9.38 patients achieve a treatment response for each patient experiencing a symptom deterioration.

    Internet-based guided self-help is associated with a mean reduced risk for a symptom deterioration compared to controls. Treatment and symptom progress of patients with low education should be closely monitored, as some patients might face an increased risk for symptom deterioration. Future studies should examine predictors of deterioration in patients with low education.

  • 2016. Alexander Rozental (et al.). PLoS ONE 11 (6)

    Research conducted during the last decades has provided increasing evidence for the use of psychological treatments for a number of psychiatric disorders and somatic complaints. However, by focusing only on the positive outcomes, less attention has been given to the potential of negative effects. Despite indications of deterioration and other adverse and unwanted events during treatment, little is known about their occurrence and characteristics. Hence, in order to facilitate research of negative effects, a new instrument for monitoring and reporting their incidence and impact was developed using a consensus among researchers, self-reports by patients, and a literature review: the Negative Effects Questionnaire. Participants were recruited via a smartphone-delivered self-help treatment for social anxiety disorder and through the media (N = 653). An exploratory factor analysis was performed, resulting in a six-factor solution with 32 items, accounting for 57.64% of the variance. The derived factors were: symptoms, quality, dependency, stigma, hopelessness, and failure. Items related to unpleasant memories, stress, and anxiety were experienced by more than one-third of the participants. Further, increased or novel symptoms, as well as lack of quality in the treatment and therapeutic relationship rendered the highest self-reported negative impact. In addition, the findings were discussed in relation to prior research and other similar instruments of adverse and unwanted events, giving credence to the items that are included. The instrument is presently available in eleven different languages and can be freely downloaded and used from www.neqscale.com.

  • 2016. Sarah Heinrich (et al.). Internet Interventions 4 (2), 120-130

    Background: Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (ICBT) has proven to be an effective treatment in improving patients' ability to cope with tinnitus. However, some patients prefer face-to-face therapy to ICBT, and a few studies have shown considerable dropout rates if the treatment is not guided. This renders it important to identify factors that contribute to the commencement and continuation of ICBT programs.

    Aims: Because treatment motivation and expectations are important factors in psychological treatment, the aim of our study was to investigate what leads tinnitus patients to seek out ICBT, what helps them to keep up with the treatment, and what (if any) impact these factors have on dropout rates and treatment outcomes.

    Method: 112 tinnitus patients taking part in ICBT for tinnitus responded to symptom-related questionnaires at three points in time (pre-treatment, post-treatment, and one-year-follow-up) and to a questionnaire consisting of open-ended questions about their treatment motivation and expectations before beginning treatment. Data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis, and the results were used to divide the participants into groups. The treatment outcomes of these groups were compared using t-tests, χ2-tests, and both one-factorial and mixed ANOVAs.

    Results: Four main categories emerged as factors conducive to starting treatment: 1) Targets participants wanted to address, 2) circumstances that led to participation, 3) attitudes towards the treatment, and 4) training features. Participants identified six facilitators for continuing the treatment: success, training, individual attitude, hope, evidence, and support. Naming specific tinnitus-associated problems as targets was associated with greater improvement from pre-treatment to 1-year-follow-up. Describing an active involvement in the treatment was related to increased improvement from post-treatment to follow-up.

    Conclusion: There are several motivational factors that tinnitus patients consider relevant for beginning and continuing ICBT. Particularly, focusing on specific targets that do not involve the tinnitus itself, and encouraging participants to take an active role in treatment may increase treatment effectiveness. However, further hypothesis-guided research is necessary to confirm our explorative results.

  • 2015. Alexander Rozental (et al.). Cognitive Behaviour Therapy 44 (6), 480-490

    Procrastination refers to the tendency to postpone the initiation and completion of a given course of action. Approximately one-fifth of the adult population and half of the student population perceive themselves as being severe and chronic procrastinators. Albeit not a psychiatric diagnosis, procrastination has been shown to be associated with increased stress and anxiety, exacerbation of illness, and poorer performance in school and work. However, despite being severely debilitating, little is known about the population of procrastinators in terms of possible subgroups, and previous research has mainly investigated procrastination among university students. The current study examined data from a screening process recruiting participants to a randomized controlled trial of Internet-based cognitive behavior therapy for procrastination (Rozental et al., in press). In total, 710 treatment-seeking individuals completed self-report measures of procrastination, depression, anxiety, and quality of life. The results suggest that there might exist five separate subgroups, or clusters, of procrastinators: “Mild procrastinators” (24.93%), “Average procrastinators” (27.89%), “Well-adjusted procrastinators” (13.94%), “Severe procrastinators” (21.69%), and “Primarily depressed” (11.55%). Hence, there seems to be marked differences among procrastinators in terms of levels of severity, as well as a possible subgroup for which procrastinatory problems are primarily related to depression. Tailoring the treatment interventions to the specific procrastination profile of the individual could thus become important, as well as screening for comorbid psychiatric diagnoses in order to target difficulties associated with, for instance, depression.

  • 2015. Alexander Rozental (et al.). Internet Interventions 2 (3), 314-322

    Internet interventions constitute a promising and cost-effective treatment alternative for a wide range of psychiatric disorders and somatic conditions. Several clinical trials have provided evidence for its efficacy and effectiveness, and recent research also indicate that it can be helpful in the treatment of conditions that are debilitating, but do not necessarily warrant more immediate care, for instance, procrastination, a self-regulatory failure that is associated with decreased well-being and mental health. However, providing treatment interventions for procrastination via the Internet is a novel approach, making it unclear how the participants themselves perceive their experiences. The current study thus investigated participants' own apprehension of undergoing Internet-based cognitive behavior therapy for procrastination by distributing open-ended questions at the post-treatment assessment, for instance, “What did you think about the readability of the texts”, “How valuable do you believe that this treatment has been for you?”, and “The thing that I am most displeased with (and how it could be improved) is …”. In total, 75 participants (50%) responded, and the material was examined using thematic analysis. The results indicate that there exist both positive and negative aspects of the treatment program. Many participants increased their self-efficacy and were able to gain momentum on many tasks and assignments that had been deferred in their everyday life. Meanwhile, several participants lacked motivation to complete the exercises, had too many conflicting commitments, and were unable to keep up with the tight treatment schedule. Hence, the results suggest that Internet interventions for procrastination could profit from individual tailoring, shorter and more manageable modules, and that the content need to be adapted to the reading comprehension and motivational level of the participant.

  • 2015. Gerhard Andersson (et al.). The Behavior Therapist 38 (5), 123-126
  • 2015. Alexander Rozental (et al.). Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 83 (4), 808-824

    Objective: Procrastination can be a persistent behavior pattern associated with personal distress. However, research investigating different treatment interventions is scarce, and no randomized controlled trial has examined the efficacy of cognitive−behavior therapy (CBT). Meanwhile, Internet-based CBT has been found promising for several conditions, but has not yet been used for procrastination. Method: Participants (N = 150) were randomized to guided self-help, unguided self-help, and wait-list control. Outcome measures were administered before and after treatment, or weekly throughout the treatment period. They included the Pure Procrastination Scale, the Irrational Procrastination Scale, the Susceptibility to Temptation Scale, the Montgomery Åsberg Depression Rating Scale−Self-report version, the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Assessment, and the Quality of Life Inventory. The intention-to-treat principle was used for all statistical analyses. Results: Mixed-effects models revealed moderate between-groups effect sizes comparing guided and unguided self-help with wait-list control; the Pure Procrastination Scale, Cohen’s d = 0.70, 95% confidence interval (CI) [0.29, 1.10], and d = 0.50, 95% CI [0.10, 0.90], and the Irrational Procrastination Scale, d = 0.81 95% CI [0.40, 1.22], and d = 0.69 95% CI [0.29, 1.09]. Clinically significant change was achieved among 31.3–40.0% for guided self-help, compared with 24.0–36.0% for unguided self-help. Neither of the treatment conditions was found to be superior on any of the outcome measures, Fs(98, 65.17−72.55)< 1.70, p >.19. Conclusion: Internet-based CBT could be useful for managing self-reported difficulties due to procrastination, both with and without the guidance of a therapist.

  • 2015. Alexander Rozental (et al.). Cognitive Behaviour Therapy 44 (3), 223-236

    Internet interventions are defined as the delivery of health care-related treatments via an online or a smartphone interface, and have been shown to be a viable alternative to face-to-face treatments. However, not all patients benefit from such treatments, and it is possible that some may experience negative effects. Investigations of face-to-face treatments indicate that deterioration occurs in 5-10% of all patients. The nature and scope of other negative effects of Internet interventions is, however, largely unknown. Hence, the current study explored patients' reported negative experiences while undergoing treatments delivered via the Internet. Data from four large clinical trials (total N=558) revealed that 9.3% of patients reported some type of negative effects. Qualitative content analysis was used to explore the patients' responses to open-ended questions regarding their negative experiences. Results yielded two broad categories and four subcategories of negative effects: patient-related negative effects (insight and symptom) and treatment-related negative effects (implementation and format). Results emphasize the importance of always considering negative effects in Internet-based interventions, and point to several ways of preventing such experiences, including regular assessment of negative events, increasing the flexibility of treatment schedules and therapist contact, as well as prolonging the treatment duration.

  • 2015. Alexander Rozental, Anna Malmquist. Journal of GLBT Family Studies 11 (2), 127-150

    Female same-sex couples in Sweden have had access to fertility treatment within public health care since 2005. Treatment is generally tax funded, with a minimal of personal expenses. After birth, both mothers gain legal status as the child's parents. This article draws on findings from interviews with 29 lesbian mothers, all of whom have sought treatment at fertility clinics within the Swedish public health care system. Parts of the interviews in which the mothers describe deficiencies in the provided treatment have been scrutinized in detail. Results show how heteronormative assumptions about the family and a feeling of exposure in the role of patient give rise to vulnerability in lesbian mothers. Furthermore, neither routines nor the offered treatment are adapted to lesbian women's specific needs. Regarding dealing with deficiencies, the interviews are filled with expressions of acceptance, which rhetorically minimize the impact of potential stressors. A main conclusion is that legal inclusion of lesbians in fertility treatment is of groundbreaking importance to lesbians with a desire to become parents. The next step is to address heteronormativity within the health care institutions in order to develop treatment adapted to lesbian couples’ specific needs.

Show all publications by Alexander Rozental at Stockholm University

Last updated: October 4, 2017

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